Two councillors have told civic chiefs they do not want an increase in their allowances – and have called on other members to snub the offer.
Hartlepool Borough Council’s chief finance officer Chris Little wrote to all 33 councillors this week to tell them that their basic allowance of £5,825 was going up to £5,953.
The proposed hike in allowances was recommended by the Independent Remuneration Panel, and was discussed by the full council in July.
Councillors did not approve the increases at the time and a Labour-backed amendment was put forward saying if they were to be given a rise then it should be in line with any increases given to council staff.
Since then, a 2.2 per cent rise for council staff has been agreed at Government level, therefore triggering the cash boost for councillors.
But councillors Pamela Hargreaves and Jonathan Brash, who refer to themselves as Independent Labour but are classed as Independent on the council’s website, said members did not “deserve” a rise.
Coun Brash said:
“Most public sector workers have seen just a 1 per cent rise, making them poorer year on year.
“The idea of local politicians accepting any rise in these circumstances, let alone 2.2 per cent, makes me sick to my stomach. This was a Labour stitch-up from the beginning. Many councillors said it was wrong then and it remains wrong today.
“It’s time Hartlepool had some real Labour principles back in the council chamber.”
Coun Hargreaves said:
“Let us be absolutely clear. Council staff deserve this pay award However, to suggest that local councillors are comparable and deserve the same pay increase is abhorrent and we will not accept it.”
The authority’s deputy leader Coun Carl Richardson accused them of “cheap political point-scoring”.
Coun Richardson, deputy leader of Hartlepool Council, said:
“This is cheap political point-scoring.
“Hartlepool Councillors received no increase in their Basic Allowance for four years from 2009/10 to 2012/13 and the Full Council last year rejected the Independent Remuneration Panel’s recommendation that the Basic Allowance should be increased each year, which would have meant a figure of £6,517 for 2015/16.
“Instead, it agreed an amendment put forward by the Labour Group that councillors should stick to a previous 2013 resolution that they should only receive an increase in their basic allowance in line with any pay increase received by council employees from the Government, as and when that occurred.
“The current increase – which will be payable from 1st January 2015 and will be fixed for 2015/16 – will take the councillors’ basic allowance from £5,825 to £5,953.
“It means Hartlepool will still have the lowest councillors’ basic allowance in the North-East – significantly less than the North-East average of £8,965 and way below the highest allowance in the region of £13,300.”
Source – Hartlepool Mail, 16 Jan 2015